The Roman sanctuary of the Madonna del Divino amore will be connected in video, tomorrow afternoon, at 5.30 pm, with the Grotto of Lourdes in the Vatican Gardens for the prayer of the Rosary with Francis together with more than 40 other sacred places in the world. In front of a copy of the fresco of the Mother of Divine Love, on 11 March, the Pope pronounced a prayer for the end of the pandemic, as rector Don Gerardo Di Paolo recalls
“You, Salvation of the Roman people, know what we need and we are sure that you will ensure that, as in Cana of Galilee, joy and celebration can return after this moment of trial”. Pope Francis thus prayed to the Mother of Divine Love, on March 11, in a video broadcast before the Mass celebrated without faithful by the cardinal vicar for the diocese of Rome Angelo De Donatis, in the Roman sanctuary of the Madonna del Divino Amore, to ask for an end of the pandemic that had recently started to claim victims in Italy and in Rome.
March 11: the Pope’s prayer to the Mother of Divine Love
“Under Your protection we seek refuge, Holy Mother of God – continued the Pope’s invocation, in front of the copy of the miraculous image venerated in the sanctuary on the Via Ardeatina, brought to the library of the Apostolic Palace – Do not despise the pleas of us who are in the test, and free us from all dangers ”. In the sanctuary entrusted to the Oblates, children of the Madonna of Divine Love, the rector Don Gerardo Di Paolo, the priests, the religious and the seminarians then recited this prayer every day, also mindful of the visit that Francis made, on 2 May 2018, to the Shrine.
The rector: several times he saved those who begged you
And tomorrow, at 17.30, also from the ancient sanctuary of 1745, to which the new one, inaugurated and dedicated to the Madonna by Saint John Paul II, will be raised, the prayer of the Rosary, in communion and in video connection with the Pontiff in the Lourdes Grotto of the Vatican Gardens and with dozens of shrines from all over the world. All this thanks to the initiative “All united with Pope Francis for the prayer of the Rosary, together with the Shrines of the World, to ask the Virgin for help and help in the pandemic”, promoted by the Pontifical Council for the Promotion of the New Evangelization. The rector, Don Gerardo Di Paolo.
R. – We of the Shrine of Our Lady of Divine Love, both the communities that live here, the priests, the nuns, the seminarians but also all the faithful who are already returning here numerous to pay homage to the Holy Virgin, we are very pleased to join the Holy Father for this moment of worldwide prayer. We will find ourselves connected inside the ancient Shrine which shows us the beautiful image that is kept here of Mary Mother of Divine Love, Bride of the Spirit. In what spirit? Certainly to share a petition together, because this becomes the prayer we will do, a petition to the Holy Virgin to support us, to help us, in this moment of great difficulty that involves the whole Earth. As we know, the Holy Father compiled a prayer, addressing it right to the Madonna of Divine Love and pronouncing it the first time for him, in front of this beautiful image that had been transferred, a copy of course, in the library where he holds the Angelus meeting weekly. We prayed that prayer every day, joining the Pope in this supplication to Our Lady. This sanctuary was born precisely from a miraculous gesture made by the Holy Virgin.
In the prayer that the Pope composed to the Virgin, he reminds her: “You know what we need”. How can we give meaning, also through prayer, to Mary and the Lord, to this period of difficulty and pain?
R. – It almost seems that the story of Divine Love somehow helps us to reenter this type of expressiveness. “You know, Mother, what we need.” That is why the Madonna of Divine Love proved attentive, with a gesture of liberation, towards that ancient pilgrim. In the distant 1740 ancient Pellegrino gives us this Rome passing through the Roman countryside found himself at the foot of this now half-ruined tower, and on this tower was painted this fresco, of very ancient date, dates back to the twelfth, thirteenth century, it is said to be of the Cavallini from Giotto’s school. This pilgrim was suddenly assaulted by shepherd dogs, because shepherds with their flocks found refuge in these ruins. He was attacked in a very aggressive way: he only had the strength to look up and crossed it with the gaze of the Madonna that was painted on the tower. These words also came out of his mouth: “Grace Madonna! Help me, set me free! ” and miraculously these dogs suddenly became tense and were pushed away from him almost by a mysterious force. This episode was shared immediately with the shepherds themselves who were almost surprised that the unknown one was still alive and reaches the Vatican. Shortly thereafter the sanctuary was built, and the image was placed inside. And from there begins the adventure of this place, which has countless graces. Truly the Madonna, after the first miracle, renews her graces and distributes them to all those who resort to her. And this attention, with a concrete response, renewed it also on the occasion of the last war. Because the Romans are so fond of the Madonna of Divine Love because they enjoyed an extraordinary intervention, to say the least, in the last war.
Rome was besieged by the Nazis, all the bridges had been mined, and they had sworn not to leave it, not to want to give it lightly to the allies who were now advancing from the South and coming towards the city. So the request was unanimous, involving. All the people, tens of thousands of people who were here in the city, went first to San Lorenzo then to Sant’Ignazio, which was larger, more capacious, to gather all those who went to beg the Madonna asking for the liberation of the city . Pius XII who was segregated in the Vatican joined this anxiety, this prayer. Not being able to go personally, he delegated his secretary who was Montini, the future Paul VI, and that miracle happened. At night, Nazi troops left the city, heading north, just a few hours before the Allied avant-garde arrived. The feeling of amazement was shared by all and was unanimous in thanks. We know that then Pope Pius XII himself, after a week, went to Saint Ignatius and proclaimed Our Lady of Divine Love the savior of Rome, the new salvation of the Roman people.
In this perspective we can truly say that the prayer addressed to Mary finds extraordinary suffrage. She who has repeatedly intervened in favor not only of the people of Rome, but for the benefit of anyone who begs him, at this moment it is the whole world who kneels at his feet and asks to be listened to and exhausted. We find this anxiety that asks for liberation in this prayer, which is really a supplication to Our Lady to help us, support us and lift us from this pandemic, asking the Lord to give us back that joy that has failed.
In these closing months of the Shrine, how did the devotees feel their closeness to the Madonna of Divine Love?
A. – During the lockdown period it was impossible for the faithful to reach the sanctuary. And for us who are here, accustomed to seeing so many people arriving, so many pilgrims, to living so many celebrations, to welcoming so many people, administering the sacrament of Reconciliation, the celebration of the Eucharist and the other sacraments, we have been a bit desolate . It seemed an unreal vision to us. We were lucky to be able to be connected every day with the transmission of the Holy Mass on TV2000 and then through the phone calls. There was a constant ringing of the phone, with people asking to remind her of the Lord, to pray for them, and for their particular intentions. And they were supplications, requests for prayers but also for thanks for graces.
What did they ask in their prayers, and what do they ask now?
R. – They asked for help, protection, to be protected in their families, to protect their children, their loved ones. A protective look, a protective action by the Madonna. As if they asked us: help us find shelter under the great mantle of love and mercy of the Holy Virgin.